The curriculum isn’t crowded…it’s brimming with opportunity!

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I’ve been concerned with the number of educators who are constantly reminding others of how ‘crowded’ the curriculum is. Many of them are voicing their concerns a little louder now that the National Curriculum has begun to be implemented, while others are relating it to the fact that there are only a certain number of hours in a school day.
 
It frustrates me to hear that many staff believe that the curriculum is “too full”. Rather than looking at the curriculum as “too full”, why are we not looking at it as “brimming with opportunities and variety”? We know that students all have different learning styles and interests. It would be narrow-minded of educators to believe that every single aspect of the curriculum is applicable and important for every single student.
 
My Year 4 History curriculum tells me that I should be covering world explorers such as Magellan, Columbus and Cook. Science tells me that I need to be teaching the life cycles of plants and animals. The new Geography syllabus instructs me to teach biomes of Africa and South America and the sustainability aspects of these. 
 
I didn’t freak out when I saw the requirements. I used my time wisely. I created a series of learning opportunities to try and cover all of the material in the most sensible manner, using a range of subject areas. Students worked in pairs to research (literacy & ICT focus) an African or South American country, including their biomes (geography) and the plants (science) that live in them. This led into life cycles and descriptions and information reports (literacy) on an African animal of their choice. They summarised information (literacy) about plant life cycles and presented their information as a slideshow (ICT). Students proved that there was more than one explorer in the world, which led to discussions on Columbus, Magellan, Marco Polo, Vikings, Matthew Flinders and Captain Cook. Some students focused on the vikings, others were interested in finding out who discovered their country of origin. We used these explorers to develop a timeline (maths) of important dates of world discovery. By communicating with our visual arts teacher, the Year 4’s created South American “God’s eye” art and African masks.
 
Many educators refer to these types of lessons as “Integrated Studies”. That’s fine, as long as it is not a scheduled timeslot to “do” Integrated Studies. If it’s truly integrated, it will be seeping through most of your lessons and immersing students in valuable learning opportunities. It’s not about choosing the most important aspects of the curriculum. It’s about providing students with the opportunity to learn about things that interest them, yet are important to understand.

One response »

  1. Hi Fiona,
    I think you say it best when you say “It would be narrow-minded of educators to believe that every single aspect of the curriculum is applicable and important for every single student.”
    I have to agree. No more excuses, no more complaining. This is the way that the curriculum has been designed and it’s time to just get on with it without complaining about an over-crowded curriculum and making excuses as to why essentials haven’t been “covered”.
    I would love to be taking an open inquiry approach to the curriculum but am feeling constantly dictated to by leadership and other’s expectations. Trying to make it all work for me this term. I have a very supportive team and we’re really doing great things with our Inquiry unit this term but sometimes I’m even restricted by them because I can’t do things in my classroom or else parents will be on their backs for not doing it in their classrooms (as we have many siblings in the same year level).
    Anyway. Enough excuses and complaints 😉
    Katelyn 🙂

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